Lose weight. Gain it back. Lose the weight again. Gain it back again, plus a little more. This repeated loss and gain is referred to as yo-yo dieting or in more scientific terms, weight cycling. But whether you call the yo-yo diet or weight loss cycling, seeing your weight decrease and then rebound and increase can be a neverending, demoralizing cycle for you.
Watching your weight go up and down can be very frustrating. However, you can put a stop to the yo-yo weight loss cycle by looking for an effective diet solution. After all, you already know how to take the weight off. You have done it over and over again. So, by now, you should know that losing weight is just 50% of the battle. You also need to know how to keep it off.
Below are some helpful tips that can help you stop the cycle of yo-yo dieting forever:
Follow the science and physiology of weight loss.
Deciding how you lose weight may be one of the greatest determining factors for your success in maintaining your weight loss and prevent the yo-yo diet effect. Let’s face it; weight loss is not a normal function for the body. Our bodies are programmed for weight gain from a survival perspective. So, weight loss itself may trigger an alarm signal to the body.
Outside of biochemical states such as ketosis, there is a limit to “how low you can go” when it comes to calories you consume or burn. We can lose weight quickly by cutting our calories too low. You can do so by either reducing the amount of food we eat or doing excessive amounts of exercise. But, then again, we may end up triggering an alarm in the body by reducing the net calories below the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Your RMR represents the number of calories your body requires to support basic organ function.
Unlike a car that runs out of gas, your body still needs to function, even if it is not getting enough calories. When faced with this dilemma, your body will choose to start to burn muscle instead of fat. This is a smart adaptation by your body. So, you need to keep monitoring your lean mass and body fat while losing weight. If you are not doing so, then, you may unknowingly be setting yourself up for a rebound in weight gain. While on a diet, your scale continues to drop. However, as soon as you go off the diet, your body no longer has the same amount of lean mass (the basis for your metabolism) to burn the calories you consume.
Try to be realistic.
A great way to stop the yo-yo diet effect is to choose a weight management plan that divides weight loss and maintenance into different approaches. You cannot stay on the same diet you followed to lose weight indefinitely. You need to have a different approach as you transition back to your normal lifestyle. Thus, the maintenance plan needs to be realistic and something you can stick to. You’ve seen this scenario before, and so have we.
Often, we have clients who are former dieters from programs like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. They are initially successful in losing weight while they eat the packaged meals that comprise their diet. They enjoy not having to think or cook while on the plan. However, it prevents them from making the lifestyle changes necessary that set healthy habits, such as meal planning, shopping, cooking, and learning how to navigate the real food environment of eating out while on the plan. Once the deliveries of food stop, so do their diets.
These clients go from feeling proud of their weight loss results to panicked as the weight starts to creep back on. They have no other tools or plans except to go back on a diet to get back in control of their weight. This is the definition of the yo-yo dieting cycle of weight loss. Selecting the right approach for weight will help you shed those pounds. Additionally, it will also help you keep them off – forever.
Believe you can do it.
Believe that you can do it. You need to ask yourself this question: “Is changing the diet, exercise, and diet worth a healthier you? Do you think these changes will benefit you at the end of the day? That little voice of doubt exists in us all, especially when we face situations that can derail us from our goals.
We find that working with a nutritionist or coach while for weight loss helps you to stay on track and thus prevent the yo-yo diet effect. Also, it can help identify the patterns of self-doubt or sabotage that discourage us. This Self-doubt can set us up for lack of success or, worse, failure after hitting our goal. At BioIntelligent Wellness, our coaches focus on helping you work with your psyche while losing weight, and when you transition to maintenance. Many clients come to us, feeling they have to lose weight for someone else or to somehow become a perfect vision of themself. We instead focus on self-empowerment, self-care, and self-respect.
We can do anything we set our minds to, as long as we have a plan, support, and learn how to reset our focus on our capacity to succeed. This is what we should aim for rather than being defeated by focusing on an unattainable, unhealthy image of ourselves.
Go for something new.
Make some little changes. They are often easier to do and to continue doing. What you consider a small change can make a big difference in your weight loss journey. Moreover, it can help you sustain your great results.
We all remember the tv show The Biggest Loser. We’ve seen many contestants being successful in losing weight by checking out of their normal lifestyle. These people focused on nothing but dieting and 4-6 hours of exercise a day. Such diet plans can produce dramatic weight loss results, but these are not sustainable measures. When these people transition back to their lifestyles, they realize the drastic changes that helped them lose weight, are not maintainable. Instead, you can go with smaller changes like prepping your meals for the week, increasing your activity with daily exercise, and drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water. These are all small maintainable changes you can make that support lasting weight loss.
Take care of yourself.
Sure, taking care of yourself is eating healthy foods and doing regular exercise. However, doing things that are not even related to diet and weight loss can also promote your physical, mental, and emotional health. A little tender loving and self-care help a great deal.
Avoid using food as a stress reliever.
Many of us turn to food and/or alcohol when we are under stress and not on a weight loss plan, which leads to the yo-yo dieting cycle. When we are on a restricted weight loss diet plan, this vice may not be available to us so it’s a great time to work with your habits and tendencies. When we work with our habits while losing weight, we gain tools to manage our stress without turning to food or alcohol. Let’s face it; stress is an unavoidable part of our lives. Thus, learning to identify when we are tempted to numb and establishing new patterns for how we deal with stress is another key to lasting weight loss.
Ask for assistance when necessary.
Speak with your support system regularly – be it family members, friends, your psychologist, nutritionist, or weight loss coach. It can help you put your weight loss journey into perspective. It also allows others to support you when you need it. We find that clients that try and lose weight alone lack this support or, worse, receive feedback that may not be supportive.
Remember, not everyone has a scientific background or psychological skillset to be able to support you. That’s why it’s essential to assemble your support team. Remember how we seek advice from different sources based on the questions we are looking to have answered? Similarly, we also need to design our support system to provide us what we need. Perhaps your partner isn’t the one you will benefit most from sharing your insecurities with. The friend who is also struggling may not be the most effective choice of who to turn to if you are needing support in staying on your diet.
Just like raising a child, weight loss and maintenance also takes a village. Also, establishing your support network makes it easier to have the necessary support in place when you need it.
Embody your new healthy behaviors.
Improve your chances of sustaining your weight loss and results of the weight loss program. Be committed to your new healthy lifestyle, and stop the neverending yo-yo dieting cycle of weight loss and regain. Your goals and plan need to extend beyond the weight loss phase and span into a lifestyle. In my experience, people look at weight loss as a lifestyle. They fail to realize that all effective weight loss plans need to have a beginning and an end, like with the Ideal Protein diet.
Learning to lose weight correctly is only half the battle. Learning how to create a new lifestyle that can be embraced is your key to success. In our new lifestyle, we learn to love our healthy behaviors. and enjoy the way we feel when doing the things that make us feel good. I also believe that having these healthy behaviors in place helps us keep the things that are not-so-healthy in check. We’ve all experienced the contrast of waking up after making less than ideal decisions. It could be drinking too much, overeating, or eating foods that don’t make us feel our best.
The best part about embracing our new lifestyle is that our maintenance plan allows us a healthy way to recognize the decisions we make one day that doesn’t need to become a pattern we recreate the next day. That is my favorite part of my lifestyle plan with Ideal Protein. I can have one day where I can break all of the “rules”, but it stops there. Rather than getting caught up in the self-deprecation that often leads to a run of bad behavior, I look forward to knowing how to do one day of damage control. I use my lifestyle to get myself back on track rather than needing to go back on a diet. The best way to prevent yo-yo dieting, along with its negative side effects, is to create a plan that addresses both weight loss and real life.
If you’re interested in learning how to get out of the yo-yo dieting cycle, schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our nutritionists. Learn how to create a plan that gets you off the yo-yo dieting rollercoaster and on track with lasting weight loss.